An organization’s culture is the glue that holds it together. It is what defines its business objectives and determines the way employees govern themselves at work. Hence while hiring new recruits, it is my opinion that looking for a “culture fit” is an absolutely key trait, perhaps even more important than prior experience and skills.
The result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). But before your hiring team starts measuring a candidate’s culture fit, they need to be able to define and clearly articulate the organization’s culture – its values, goals, and practices — and then, weave this understanding into the hiring process.
The process of defining organizational culture can take many forms, from working with an external experienced consultant to staff-driven focus groups and discussions. The result could be a formal statement from senior management defining the organization’s culture or a list of operating cultural norms that govern the way staff interact with one another and external clients — or both. What’s important is that hiring managers, interviewers, recruiters, and everyone at your company can identify critical characteristics that mesh well with that culture. For example, if strong leadership skills are one of your organization’s priorities, ensuring that potential candidates are experienced leaders, with a track record of successfully leading teams and managing conflicts, will be imperative. This would be a key signal of a good culture fit.
Personally as an HR Manager, when I’m hiring for new positions, I make sure I get a good sense of the candidate’s current and previous organizational cultures in the initial HR discussion itself. First and foremost, the reason he or she is leaving the organization, is a great indicator about the old culture and what the candidate isn’t ok with.Asking further probing questions like “What best practices would you bring with you from your organization? Do you see yourself being able to implement these best practices in our environment?” or “What type of culture do you thrive in?” Even figuring on an average how much time an employee spent at work during a week and how many close colleagues they have will give you good data points. People who spend long hours at work generally forge friendships with colleagues because they spend maximum time with them.
Cultural fit is the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that make up your organization. Employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and supervisors have greater job satisfaction, are more likely to remain with their organization, and show superior job performance.
While it may seem like looking for a culture fit can lead to discrimination against candidates and a lack of diversity, hiring for a culture fit doesn’t mean hiring people who are all the same. The values and attributes that make up an organizational culture can, and should be reflected in a richly diverse workforce.
Finally, try to expose your candidates to a larger picture of what it would be like to work at your organization. Give him or her a tour of the office and a chance to see how employees at all levels interact with one another at meetings or during lunch. You could even schedule one on one meetings for the candidate with key contributors & managers at your organization. Pay attention to the candidate’s comfort level and gather feedback from staff. The candidate whose behavior and values are consistent with your organization will naturally rise to the top.
If you assess culture fit throughout the recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new roles, drive long-term growth and success for your organization, and ultimately save you time and money.
A HR professional with 10+ years of diverse experience across various functions of the field having worked for firms such as Citigroup, Syntel and DreamWorks Animation. I believe my career has made me capable (maybe even partly entitled) to pass on my experiences and share my notions on what has worked well for me and what hasn’t! And I probably have more of the latter to share… like Albert Einstein said “A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new!”